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Limerick City Petitions

31/07/1822

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Petitions Relating to the Local Taxation of the City of Limerick page 1
 
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Limerick City Petitions

Date of Article: 31/07/1822
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Appendix ' ( A.) Mr. J. M. Hervey. ( 2 July.) 108 MINUTES OF EVIDENCE BEFORE SELECT COMMITTEE regulate them as they thought fit; the subject was taken into consideration by the directors of the Chamber of Commerce, and it was concluded, that it might be a use- ful measure to make the bargain for one year, ( on trial,) with the corporation of Limerick, for all their claims of gateage, custom, toll weighing money, and every thing, in fact all their demands upon corn and potatoes. We were to relieve the article of potatoes entirely from any charge; there were several charges, consisting of toll, custom and weighing money, which fell heavy upon that article. I do not know how much it amounted to, but it was a heavy charge, and one which the country people complained of. As I have stated, the directors concluded it would be a good measure to make the experiment for one year, to take all these tolls and customs from the corporation, for the purpose of relieving potatoes altogether, and for the purpose of preventing the frequent disputes that took place between the far- mers and the corporation toll- gatherers. It was understood mutually between the merchants and the corporation, and had been for several years before, that all corn bought for exportation should be free of toll, and only liable to the custom of one half- penny per statute barrel for gateage; but all corn used for the consumption of the town, whether by bakers, millers, brewers, distillers, housekeepers, or any others, in fact all that was not bought for exportation was liable to toll and custom; notwithstand- ing this, the toll- gatherers frequently made demands on the corn bought for exportation, which the country people were sometimes obliged to pay, though they had the merchants' toll tickets, and both the magistrates of Limerick and the merchants were very much troubled with the disputes of the toll gatherers and the country peo- ple on the subject of corn bought for exportation, and which was understood to be free. We therefore made an agreement with the chamberlain of the corporation, who, I believe, was then the late John Prendergast Smyth, esq. ( afterwards Lord Gort,) for all their claims of toll, custom, gateage, and every thing of that sort, affecting every species of corn, grain and potatoes. We published information by printed hand- bills to the farmers, of our having made such an agreement for one year, and that the merchants would stop from such farmers as chose to sell their corn to them, the rates payable to the corporation upon corn sold for home- consumption : that we would make no charge whatever upon potatoes coming to market, but pay the weigh- masters of the different market places, and all other expenses attending the potatoe markets. This information was received by the farmers with manifest tokens of approbation; many of them said they would rather pay those charges to the mer- chants, by having them deducted from their corn- tickets, for the purposes for which we made this agreement, than have the nominal freedom from toll, & c. upon the corn they sold to the merchants for exportation; that agreement was only for one year, but it has been renewed every succeeding year by mutual consent of the directors for the time being, and the late chamberlain and the present chamberlain, and we pay them the sum of 1,500/. annually. Since that arrangement has been made, have there been any complaints on the sub- ject of the receipt of toll upon corn in Limerick ?— I do not recollect any com- plaints on the part of the farmers, except from some gentlemen who were freemen of the corporation, and who, under that pretext, thought they ought not to be charged any thing, and to such we uniformly said, we have done this for the public good, and we will not buy corn from any person who does not choose to submit to that deduction. Have the directors, of the Chamber of Commerce, as a body, any mode whatso- ever of enforcing the payment of those tolls, except by resolving not to buy corn from any individual who objects to the payment of such toll ?— They never have resorted to any such means; but I suppose, if they chose to apply to the corporation, that they would give them whatever assistance they conceived themselves entitled to do, but as an individual member of the body, I always gave my decided opinion against resorting to any such means ; if we met with opposition, or if we found it to be unsatis- factory to the farmers, we would drop it at once. In point of fact there has been no instance?—- Never; except that I now re- collect one gentleman of considerable consequence, and I believe a friend of the corporation, who probably knew nothing of the agreement, did object to the toll being taken upon some corn of his that was sold to a merchant, and did threaten to take legal proceedings against the merchant for having stopped a few shillings for those charges upon his corn; and the steps that the directors thought it most eligible to take, were to request a member of the Chamber of Commerce, who was also either a member
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